Thrombosis / Pulmonary Embolism
Thrombos is the Greek word for clump or plug. We are referring to a thrombosis if a blood clot occludes a blood vessel, particularly a vein. The deep veins of the pelvis and legs are those the most commonly affected. If a part of a blood clot loosens from one of these veins, it travels via the heart into the lungs. There it blocks arteries crucial for respiration and the result is a life-threatening lung embolism.
A thrombus develops through blood coagulation – a process that is actually a protection mechanism. Following an open injury, the body’s coagulation system prevents excessive bleeding. The blood coagulates or clumps, and thereby closes the wound.
However, in uninjured blood vessels, blood should flow freely and not clot. Here, blood coagulation is an obstacle for blood flow and a potential source for a dangerous lung embolism. The risk of thrombosis or embolism increases as the natural capacity of the blood to coagulate grows stronger.
Why does leg vein thrombosis develop?
Slowed blood flow
If a patient must remain in bed for an extended period of time due to a serious illness, the leg muscles that pump the venous blood back towards the heart are not working as efficiently and the blood in the veins flows more slowly, increasing the tendency to coagulate. But blood flow can also be slowed due to an obstacle, such as an abdominal tumor that presses down on the veins.
Damage to vascular walls
An injury to the vasculature due to surgery or an accident also increases blood coagulation. Inflammation or a tumor near a vein can also alter the vascular wall so that the coagulation system is activated in the affected section. Veins that have been occluded through a clot once before are prone to the recurrence of thrombi.
Changes in the blood
Certain factors can change the composition of the blood and thus trigger a thrombus. These include:
- Oral contraceptives
- Hormonal remedies for menopausal symptoms
- Inherited coagulation disorders
- Serious illnesses involving inflammation and fever
- Weakened heart
- Worsening of a chronic respiratory disease
If you have one of these risk factors, we recommend a personal thrombosis risk consultation. If you have suffered thrombosis or a lung embolism, we can determine if the event was triggered by a hereditary coagulation disorder via a blood test. ( s. Conservative Therapy)
In approx. 40 percent of all thrombosis patients, the event occurred without recognizable triggers.